ORANGE WINE 101 !

Elle Woods may disagree with me but orange just might be the new pink… wine that is!

I’ll be honest with you guys, this has been a long post coming as orange wine is a personal favourite. It’s complex & interesting. After every sip, it leaves you wanting more, more, more.

Recently, on my instagram stories, I mentioned I was at a new wine bar drinking an orange wine that knocked my socks off. I got a ton of DMs asking me about orange wine and what it is SO that inspired finally pressing publish.

Now, I must say, for this post I did LOTS of research back to that wine bar and trying more and more orange wine. It’s a really tough job, I must admit, but duty calls so let’s fill the glass and get on with it!

Basically, if rosé is summer water, well orange wine shall claim fall & winter.

Consider serving orange wine for your holiday feasts! Not only is it festive, but it is just begging to be drank during the holiday season.

What is Orange Wine?

Now first things first, orange wine is NOT made out of oranges. Don’t let the name or colour fool you! It’s more-so a style of white wine. In fact, what makes a wine red or white is the skin contact or lack there of {aka what makes a white wine white}.

To put it bluntly, orange wine is a type of white wine that’s made by aging & fermenting the juice with the grape skins. It’s basically white wine being made like red wine – they have the freshness of whites but the structure of reds.

The extended skin contact will give the wine a rich colour that’s more orange than white, hence the name “orange wine”. Maceration can range from a few days to up to half a year.

Think of it as rosé’s opposite. Rosé is made from red grapes with very brief skin contact which gives the pink colour. Orange wine is made from white with extended skin contact.

Orange wines are full bodied, tannic wines with a colour ranging from a deep yellow to a copper amber depending on the duration of maceration.

In fact, here’s a way you’ll never forget it but Erik has a dirty little joke… “call me orange wine, because there’s about to be a lot of skin contact.” Good luck forgetting that one! HA!

Orange Wine Tasting Notes

Orange wine is one of my absolute favourites. There’s a complexity like no other. In fact, there are some orange wines I just want to bottle up and spray all over me because I just can’t get enough of it, it smells so good!

Orange wines are complex, intense, & bold. Flavour profiles vary from wine to wine, but for the most part they are dry, full bodied with pleasant tannins.

Some flavour profiles you can expect are warm baking spices, orange peel, tropical fruits, hazelnuts, florals, herbaceous notes like juniper, sourdough bread, honeysuckle, dried fruits & nuts… in fact, sometimes it can even smell like grapes {interestingly enough, most wines do not}.

What to pair Orange Wines with

Remember, the best pairings are what YOU like! That said, when it comes to pairing wine with food, pair according to body. A full bodied wine goes well with a steak or stick to your ribs stew where a lighter body wine will go nicely with a crisp salad or a flaky white fish.

Since an orange wine is on the bold side, it holds up really well with bolder cuisines. I love it with Asian & Indian cuisine. Try it with some fatty nigiri {may I suggest toro} with just a kiss of soy sauce! I also personally love to drink it with a steak.

It is a PERFECT Thanksgiving wine since it can hold up to the heavier side dishes, fall spices, and basically any style of meat. In fact, it goes really well with game meats such as venison or duck. If you are serving a cheese & charcuterie plate, serve it with some orange wine to really wow your guests!

I also love finishing a night with it. It makes for a lovely nightcap and pairs verrrrry nicely cozied up to the fire. Trust me on this one.

Some orange wines are more intense / oxidized while some will be on the lighter / fresher side. Pair according to intensity!

What Orange Wine Should I Buy?

They are harder to find – you’ll have to go to your local boutique wine shop vs the grocery store, but the extra trip is worth it! You can also ask your favourite local sommelier where to buy.

My current favourite is the Suriol Xarel-lo from Penedes, Spain – though I can’t seem to find it online. Look for it on a menu! If you are in SF, you can drink it at Parigo in the Marina {FAB PLACE BTW} for $12 a glass!

2 Italian Orange Wines I love {& 2 that introduced me to Orange Wine in 2010) are Paolo Bea ArboreusCoenobium Rusticum

Georgia {the country} is one of the oldest wine making regions in the world & famous for their qvevri/kvevri aged “amber” wines. Qveveris are basically underground clay pots & one of the first vessels used for fermenting wine. Look for Pheasant’s Tears made with the local Rkatsiteli grape 

Here are some California producers making Orange Wine:

» Scholium Project :: Prince in His Caves (Sonoma) – 100% whole cluster, skin fermented Sauvignon Blanc. Lighter in colour, but full bodied with complex acidity.
» Two Shepherds :: Centime – 12 day skin fermented white Rhone varietals: predominately Grenache Blanc with some Marsanne & Roussane. Lighter tannins w/ orange peel & spice tasting notes. They also make a skin fermented Trousseau Gris for their wine club members with only 5 days of skin contact.
» Donkey & Goat :: Grenache Blanc, skin fermented – 100% Grenache Blanc, heavy tannins, full bodied. Producer recommends opening an hour before serving or decanting.
» Ryme Cellars :: “His” Vermentino – 2 week skin contact with 100% vermentino. Tasting notes of florals, herbs & rose water.

Next time you see it on the menu, give it a go & if you do, tag me (@shannonsilver) on your instastories or photos! I’d love to see what you are drinking!

Speaking of Thanksgiving, Erik & I are headed back south to L.A. – it’s one of my favourite places to be, I love it there so much! If you have any reccs, you know what to do. We are also DRIVING so any road trip pitstops between SF & LA, let us know! It’s my first time to do this drive.

Happy Monday xx Shannon

about essellesse

essellesse is a lazy luxury lifestyle platform by Shannon Silver focusing on everything that’s important to living your best life – great food, wine, travel, vintage style, fitness and skincare. essellesse evokes a style of lazy luxury that’s fun, intimate, and easy breezy.

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